Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) is reportedly building a premium Alexa device with a 7-inch touchscreen. A report from Bloomberg News suggests that the online retailer wants to redesign its Amazon’s Echo smart home gadget in a bid to compete with Google and Apple.
The touchscreen, which we’ll see for the first time on the company’s smart home devices, will allow users to access content – weather forecasts, calendar appointments, and news – in a more convenient way, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the company’s plans.
Sources, who claim to have knowledge of the online retailer’s plans, told the publication that the new Alexa device will feature high-grade speakers, improving the gadget sound quality. According to the report, Amazon is set to announce the new device as soon as in the first quarter of 2017.
Amazon declined to comment on the new device, but the company did not deny the report.
New Alexa Device
The report suggests that Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) will use an optimized version of Fire OS – the operating system being used in the company’s Fire tablets and Fire TV set-top box – in the new device.
The redesigned Echo will be able to work with Amazon’s virtual personal assistant Alexa, but rely more on the touchscreen unlike current Alexa devices.
According to a report, the e-commerce giant is currently testing a feature allowing users to pin items such as photos on their speaker’s screen similar to physically placing items on a refrigerator door.
Amazon has no plans to discontinue the Dot, Tap and Echo speakers, the media reported. The online retailer will keep selling the speakers that are typically stationed in living rooms and bedrooms for $50, $130 and $180, respectively. The report suggests that the new smart device with a touchscreen will likely be expensive than those speakers.
In late 2014, Amazon unveiled a new 9.25-inch smart speaker that can listen to a user’s vocal commands and respond accordingly. In addition to controlling several smart devices, the Echo can play music, set alarms, play audiobooks and provide weather, traffic and other updates. It has a speaker and microphone for the communication.
The Echo seems to be a big hit, with Consumer Intelligence Research Partners estimating sales of more than 5 million units in the United States since 2014.
To rival Amazon Echo, Google recently introduced Google Home, an Alexa-like home speaker/smart assistant. The company introduced the Home on November 4 for US$129. Apple, the most profitable company in the world, is also planning to build a home device using its Siri digital assistant.
In other news, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) is taking counterfeit goods and fake reviews problem seriously. The online retail giant said that it is cracking down on fake product reviewers and introducing a policy to limit customers to only a handful of reviews a week for non-verified purchases.
The U.S. e-commerce giant is in a cold war for e-commerce leadership in Asia with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. A report from Forbes suggested that this is the most important e-commerce battle worldwide, even more intense than the battle between Walmart or Amazon or with other new players in the e-commerce business.